Tyre Bursts During the Summer Season: Tips to Ensure Road Safety

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Tyres are one of the most critical components of motor vehicles. Vehicle stability and safety can deteriorate significantly from sudden failure or blowout of vehicle tyres. A tyre burst can be a scary experience, especially if you are driving at high speed. As temperatures rise during the summer months, the danger of tyre bursts significantly increases risks to the safety of the driver, passengers and other road users. Understanding the reasons behind tyre bursts and taking preventive measures can help ensure a safe and smooth driving experience. Below are some of the reasons for tyre bursts during the summer season. We are also sharing some tyre burst preventive strategies:

v High temperatures: excessive heat directly affects the tyre’s rubber compound, making it more susceptible to failure. Excessive heat can weaken the tyre structure, leading to higher chances of tyre bursts.

In the picture, a Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe campaign team conscientizes a motorist on road safety along Harare-Chivhu during the 2023 Heroes and Defence Forces holiday.

 

 

v Age of the tyres: the age of the tyres plays a significant role in their durability. Over time, the rubber compounds in tyres deteriorates, becoming less flexible and prone to cracks. Older tyres are more likely to fail under excessive heat, especially if they have not been properly maintained.

 

 

 

 

 

 

v Tyre pressure: maintaining proper tyre pressure is important for safe driving. During the summer season, excessive heat causes the air inside the tyre to expand, increasing the pressure. If the tyres are already overinflated or if the pressure is not regularly checked, the excessive heat can push them beyond their limits, leading to a tyre burst. If you are driving on an under-inflated tyre, this will cause the tyre to bounce up and down, and additional friction will be created. Such additional friction and the heat of the summer season can weaken the tyres and cause them to burst. Make sure your tyres are properly inflated. Check tyres when they are cool for the most accurate readings, because air pressure in a tyre goes up in warm weather just after use. You should also make sure you follow the recommended tyre pressure for your vehicle. This information is found on the vehicle placard, usually found inside the vehicle door, and in the owner’s manual. 

v High speed for long durations: continuous high-speed driving generates additional heat, putting excessive strain on the tyres. This prolonged excessive heat exposure can weaken the tyre structure and increase the likelihood of a tyre bursting. Avoid speeding. Lower speeds put less pressure on the tyres and therefore reduce damage, while speeding for prolonged periods on hot roads will increase the temperature and friction.

In the picture, a Traffic Safety Educator disseminates road safety information to a driver along the Masvingo – Beitbridge road during the festive season campaign last year. Drivers were urged to avoid speeding.

v Faulty tyres: some tyres may have weak spots or structural weaknesses that make them more prone to tyre bursting, especially when exposed to high temperatures. Regularly inspecting tyres for any signs of defects is crucial for preventing road traffic accidents. Any damage to the tyre, such as cuts and punctures, compromises its structural integrity. When these damages go unnoticed or are left unaddressed, they can worsen over time. The excessive heat in summer exacerbates the weakening process, increasing the likelihood of a sudden tyre burst. Regularly check the tyre tread for uneven areas, excessive wear and foreign objects, and be sure to also check the tyre walls for any bulges, gouges, cuts or deep abrasions. Any wear on the tyre surface may indicate a problem with the vehicle, which may have nothing to do with the tyre. For example, you could have a suspension problem. If noticed early enough, you may stop an accident caused by a component failure. It could also be something as simple as the balance and alignment on the wheels, which can be fixed easily.

v Overloading: a common cause of tyre bursts is overloading. When the load on a tyre exceeds its maximum limit, the tyre becomes strained and vulnerable to bursting, particularly in hot weather conditions.

 

 

 

v Incorrect tyre fitting: improper installation or fitting of tyres is very dangerous. When tyres are not correctly aligned or balanced, they undergo uneven wear and tear, making them more prone to bursting. It is crucial to ensure that tyres are fitted correctly by a professional to avoid risks to the driver and other road users’ safety.

 

Here are some of the important things that a driver may do if the tyre bursts:

v Keep calm: Do not panic. Panicking may lead you to losing control of the vehicle.

v Avoid heavy braking: although impulsively, the driver may want to immediately brake, this can result in loss of control of the vehicle. It is advisable to put on hazard lights so that other road users are aware there is a problem.

v Do not release the accelerator suddenly: Begin to slow down and down-shift through the gears, but do this gradually.  

v Grip your steering wheel firmly: Ensure you grip your steering wheel tightly with both hands because your vehicle will pull towards the direction of the damaged tyre. It may be tempting to turn the steering wheel in the opposite direction, but this will only make the loss of control more likely. Do your best to keep going straight ahead.

v Let your car gradually slow down and finally come to a complete stop. On a roadway, the obvious place to stop is the hard shoulder. In other places, it is advisable to look out for stops like a shop car park or by the side of the road where it is safe to do so.

v Replace your tyre: if you have a spare tyre, as expected, you can change your tyre in a safe space. Alternatively, you can seek roadside assistance. Remember to make use of emergency breakdown reflective triangles.

Admittedly, having the right tyres and maintaining them properly is crucial at any time of the year, but it is particularly important during the summer months as the hot roads can interfere with the rubber compound of the tyres. The scorching summer weather exacerbates heat build-up and weakens the rubber compound of the tyres, and will potentially cause them to burst. In other words, when the temperature increases, you are more likely to have a blowout. It is indeed, important to keep an eye on the vehicle tyres. A small mistake can result in loss of precious lives.

Inserted by TSCZ, Operations Research and Marketing Section

Readers can contact TSCZ on the following email: research@trafficsafety.co.zw

The Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe emerged from the Zimbabwe Traffic Safety Board which originated from a voluntary organisation composed of area associations in Harare (then Salisbury), Bulawayo, Gweru (then Gwelo) and Mutare (then Umtali).

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